Taking care of the environment requires more than simply talking about it. It calls for stewardship, a lighter footprint, and innovation. As a result, Nutrien launched a national environmental program for students called Caring for our Watersheds (CFW). The Poudre Learning Center offers CFW in the Colorado area.
CFW asks students to submit a proposal that answers the question, “What can you do to improve your watershed?” Students research their waterways, identify an environmental concern and come up with one realistic solution. More than 200 students from Larimer and Weld counties entered the contest in 2021. Ten teams were selected as finalists, two teams as runner-ups, and three teams as honorable mentions. Students compete for over $6,000 in rewards. Nutrien also has $10,000 in funding available to help implement students’ ideas. Participating schools and clubs are eligible for over $11,000 in prizes.
The finals take place Friday, May 7, and will be broadcasted to the public the following week through the Poudre Learning Center’s Facebook page. Placement for each team will be announced in the broadcast. All teams will also create posters describing their projects. Posters will be displayed at the Poudre Learning Center, 8313 W. F Street, for public display in May.
Students selected for the finals include Colin Gilley, Ivan Cervantes, Juan Ramirez Ramirez, Juan Reveles Hernandez, Pamela Perez, and Yaritza Morfin from Northridge High School. Greeley Central High students in the top 10 are Kimberly Gonzalez Jimenez and Saria Mowrer. Greeley West High Students Brookelynn Hernandez and Helena Rangel are also finalists. Student runner-ups and honorable mentions were also named.
Ivonne Morales is the local program coordinator for the project and works at the Poudre Learning Center. In 2013, when she was a senior at Greeley Central High School, she participated in CFW as a student. Here is her story. “It was one of the most beneficial experiences I had in my high school career. As a student from a low-income family, I normally didn’t have access to opportunities like this one. I felt like I had to work harder to keep up with my peers and other students from higher-income communities. Having an opportunity like this program enabled me to tap into my true potential, and I want to do the same for others. I want to provide options for students that deserve these same opportunities but may not have access to them. The true heroes are our teachers who are willing to try new things like CFW. I can’t thank my high school science teacher, Liz Mock-Murphy, enough for making these opportunities available in the classroom. I simply facilitate the Colorado contest. Our teachers are the ones that make the difference in our program. They guide our deserving youth to the door of opportunity and success.”
Professionals working in areas of natural resources volunteer to mentor student groups in CFW. Leah Hubbard is a Water Resource Administrator I with the City of Greeley Water and Sewer Department. She is currently mentoring student Colin Gilley on a project to install trash compactors at his school to reduce plastic trash bags to reduce waste and prevent waste that could end up in our rivers and streams. Leah believes that a program like this would’ve helped her when she was younger. “I was passionate about Watershed Science in high school and thought I could do it as a profession. There were no opportunities such as this program to help me learn more from adults in the industry. Now, I would like to help future scientists, engineers, and environmental lawyers see how they can have a career doing what they love.”
The success of CFW relies on teachers, students, and community volunteers. If you would like to be involved or support the program, please visit CaringForOurWatersheds.com or contact Ivonne Morales at 970-348-4502 or email@example.com.
STEM Summer Scholars Program
Another opportunity for students to get excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, and math is happening at the Rodarte Center by collaborating with the University of Northern Colorado. Middle school students, ages 11 through 14, can participate in a six-week program (May 24 through July 1) that meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. This program is project-based; participants work closely together in hands-on problem solving with a field trip related to the area of focus each week. Participants will also have the opportunity to participate in LEGO Mindstorm Robotics and 3D printing. There is no cost for students to participate in this program; United Way of Weld County generously funds it. Call 970-350-9430 to sign up and get more information.